The new £50 English polymer banknote is due to be released on June 23rd 2021 after a virtual public unveiling took place and will eventually take the place of our current £50 paper notes. The new £50 Scottish polymer note will follow.
The choice of design for the Bank of England £50 polymer note has been created in celebration of the field of science and features Alan Turing, famous for his pioneering work in science and theoretical underpinnings for the modern computer. He was among the 12 finalists selected by the public voting from a list of 989 eligible characters before being chosen as the winner by the Governor of the Bank of England.
Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, commented:
“Alan Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today. As the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, as well as war hero, Alan Turing’s contributions were far ranging and path breaking. Turing is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand.”
The new £50 note will celebrate Alan Turing and his pioneering work with computers. As shown in the concept image, the design on the reverse of the note will feature:
- A photo of Turing taken in 1951 by Elliott & Fry which is part of the Photographs Collection at the National Portrait Gallery.
- A table and mathematical formulae from Turing’s seminal 1936 paper “On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem” Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society. This paper is widely recognised as being foundational for computer science. It sought to establish whether there could be a definitive method by which any theorem could be assessed as provable or not using a universal machine. It introduced the concept of a Turing machine as a thought experiment of how computers could operate.
- The Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) Pilot Machine which was developed at the National Physical Laboratory as the trial model of Turing’s pioneering ACE design. The ACE was one of the first electronic stored-program digital computers.
- Technical drawings for the British Bombe, the machine specified by Turing and one of the primary tools used to break Enigma-enciphered messages during WWII.
- A quote from Alan Turing, given in an interview to The Times newspaper on 11 June 1949: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.”
- Turing’s signature from the visitor’s book at Bletchley Park in 1947, where he worked during WWII.
- Ticker tape depicting Alan Turing’s birth date (23 June 1912) in binary code. The concept of a machine fed by binary tape featured in the Turing’s 1936 paper.
The full note design including all the security features will be unveiled closer to it entering circulation.
All current £50 notes can still be used until the Bank of England choose to withdraw them from circulation. The withdrawal date will be announced after the new £50 polymer has been released and at least a 3-month notice will be provided. Many banks will accept withdrawn notes as deposits from customers. The Post Office may also accept withdrawn notes as payment for goods and services, or as a deposit into any bank account. Withdrawn notes can always be exchanged with the Bank of England.
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